When a North Manchester resident took a few items to an antique auction house in Macclesfield in July, nothing of particular value was discovered. But after hearing a casual mention of several more items at home, a representative made an appointment for a field visit.
William Forrest from Adam Partridge Antiques took a tour of the Manchester residence and when he came to the garage, was handed an old Osem soup carton filled with Hebrew books. “Is there anything you can do with these?” he was asked.
Though not an expert in Hebrew manuscripts, Forrest says he immediately knew he was holding something special.
Inside the hand-painted Haggadah was inscribed: No 47 Exposition du Alvert Hall (a reference to a catalog listing at the Anglo-Jewish Exhibition at the Albert Hall in 1887); Written 5486 – 1726; Written by Aaron son of Benjamin Woolf for Mendel Oppenheim.
Initial research actually dates the rare goatskin vellum volume to 1725, and points to it having been written and illuminated by Aaron Wolf ben Benjamin Zeev Schreiber Herlingen of Wewitz. Herlingen was a scribe and illustrator who also held an official position at the Imperial Library in Vienna.
“We are really excited about this remarkable find,” says antique auction house owner, Adam Partridge. Known for his BBC TV appearances on “Flog it” and “Cash in the Attic,” Partridge says the haggadah “has been greeted with huge excitement by a number of senior rabbis and people in the community to whom we have shown it.”
According to the auction house, a similar Wolf haggadah from the Cornelius J Hauck Collection, when listed in a 2006 Christies sale in New York, sold for an unexpected $408,000, though it was estimated to sell for $100,000 to $150,000.
The “Manchester Garage Haggadah” will be listed at the Partridge Judaica sale on November 22.
It “is certain to reach a six-figure sum,” says Partridge.
Not too shabby for a neglected volume stored in a soup carton.